Together, Act Now – International Volunteer Day
International Volunteer Day is an opportunity to place the spotlight on volunteers and their importance for the well-being of society. This year, volunteer organisations are highlighting their role in the strengthening of solidarity with the slogan ‘Together, Act Now’.
In a meeting with non-government organisations, the Minister of Public Administration Sanja Ajanović Hovnik pointed out that ‘NGOs are the voice of the vulnerable and the weak. Every new day of volunteer work brings the opportunity to initiate changes in the society in which we live.’ Minister Hovnik also stressed that we need to work together, now, for a brighter future.
Volunteer work has a long and rich tradition in Slovenia. Volunteering is a selfless act by individuals that contributes to the development of the values of solidarity and interconnectedness. Through organised, high-quality volunteer work, we are able to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of the environment, making it easier to meet current social challenges, both in the local community and at the national level. An important advantage of volunteering is that it brings together different generations, with no age limits. Young people gain invaluable experience through volunteer work, while older people share their knowledge and experience with younger generations.
The Ministry of Public Administration is aware of the exceptionally important role volunteering plays in society. We view the value of solidarity as a challenge of our time.
Minister Hovnik has repeatedly stressed that voluntary organisations are an extremely important partner in society, as they enrich society through their activities. The ministry will therefore give additional weight to those activities in the future, and will work with them to draft a special strategy for the development of voluntary organisations.
One of the strategic objectives of the first government Strategy for the Development of Non-Governmental Organisations and Volunteer Work, adopted in 2018, is well-organised and sustainable volunteer work, which is widely recognised as a value and an important contributor to social well-being. That strategy stresses the need to establish mechanisms that will contribute to raising awareness about and strengthening organised volunteer work in specific areas, both at local and national levels. To that end, special attention should be given to promoting the mentoring and coordination of volunteers, the development of various forms of volunteer work and the recognition of the competences acquired through such work, for which the aforementioned strategy envisages several measures. In 2023, the ministry will begin drafting a Volunteer Work Development Strategy for the period until 2028, which will be an inclusive process involving the widest possible range of stakeholders.
Data from the Joint Report on Volunteer Work for 2021 indicate that close to 189 thousand volunteers were active in Slovenia last year, and performed more than nine million hours of volunteer work. It is estimated that volunteer work contributes more than EUR 97 million to social well-being. An analysis of data for 2021 again shows that the least organised and lowest number of volunteers was amongst young people, i.e. the number of volunteers under the age of 18 (6%) and the number of volunteers in the 18–30 age group (9%). The data show that many young volunteers work in organisations with a volunteer programme, such as public institutions, in particular primary schools.
To mark International Volunteer Day, the Slovene Philanthropy Association organised a volunteer forum, the theme of which was the inclusion and diversity of young volunteers. On Tuesday, 29 November 2022, around one hundred participants gathered at Hotel Union in Ljubljana to listen, among other things, to the problems of the loneliness and isolation of young people, which the epidemic brought into sharper focus. The forum also presented the importance of volunteer work as an effective tool for active citizenship.